Bestselling novelist Helen Dunmore’s historical novels have earned her comparisons in the press to Tolstoy and Emily Bronte. In her newest book, Dunmore mines the past to chilling effect in this evocative and sophisticated ghost story about a love affair between a neglected wife and a mysterious soldier.
It is the winter of 1952 when Isabel Carey moves to the East Riding of Yorkshire with her new husband, Philip, a medical doctor. While Philip spends long hours working away from home, Isabel finds herself lonely and vulnerable as she adjusts to the realities of being a housewife in the country.
One evening, while Philip is on call, Isabel is woken by intense cold. When she hunts for extra blankets, she discovers an old RAF greatcoat hidden in the back of a cupboard. Sleeping under the coat for warmth, she starts to dream and is soon startled by a knock at her window. Outside is a young RAF pilot wearing a familiar coat. His name is Alec and his powerful presence disturbs and excites her as they begin an intense affair. Nothing though has prepared her for the truth about Alec’s life, nor the impact it will have on her own.
Helen Dunmore FRSL (1952-2017) was a British poet, novelist and children's writer.
Dunmore was born in Beverley, Yorkshire, in 1952, the second of four children of Betty (née Smith) and Maurice Dunmore. She studied English at York University, and lived in Finland for two years (1973–75) and worked as a teacher. She lived after that in Bristol. Dunmore was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (FRSL). Some of Dunmore's children's books are included in reading schemes for use in schools.
In 2017, she published her last book, Birdcage Walk, before writing an article about mortality for The Guardian after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Her death was announced on 5 June 2017.
Helen Dunmore. Wikipedia.
Photo: Helen Dunmore, writer and local resident, offered to open the refurbished Henleaze library, Redland, Bristol. April 2008. Photo source: Wikimedia Commons.